Category Archives: Lebanon

Controversial French Comedian Dieudonné Is Coming To Lebanon On June 3rd & 4th

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dieudonne

I know for a fact that a lot of Lebanese are fans of Dieudonné, either because he’s anti-Zionist or just because he’s controversial and funny. For those of you who don’t know who this guy is, Dieudonné was born in the Paris suburs in 1966, and is a famous and controversial French stand-up comedian and activist. He’s been fined in France several times for hate speech and was recently arrested for being “an apologist for terrorism” after he published a post on Facebook that expressed sympathy with one of the Paris gunmen. He popularized the “quenelle” gesture, a straight-arm salute, that was labeled by some people as being racist and a gesture of hatred. The French authorities even tried to shutdown his show calling it racist and anti-Semitic, but Dieudonné insists that his comedy targets everyone and that he’s anti-Zionist not anti-Semitic.

Dieudonné has become somewhat of a divisive figure in France and abroad, as some view his show as being “a danger to society” and an “incitement of racial hate”, while others believe that silencing him is an attempt to limit free speech. I’ve seen many of his shows and some are hilarious while others are truly shocking but that’s what he does, almost the same way Charlie Hebdo magazine did (not according to the French law), and I’m actually surprised that they are letting him come to Lebanon specially after the latest controversy.

In all cases, Achillea is bringing Dieudonné to Beirut as mentioned on their website and “Dieudonné En Tournée: La Bête Immonde” will be showing in Lebanon on the 3rd and 4th of June 2015 at Casino du Liban and tickets should be available soon for purchase in all branches of Virgin Ticketing Box Office.

PS: This is not Dieudonné’s first visit to Beirut as he performed in 2010 at the Music Hall in Beirut.

[YouTube]

[YouTube]

[YouTube]

Expect To See Car Chases In Lebanon Soon

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cops

Here’s a video showing how the Jdeideh ISF officers warned a driver who wasn’t wearing a seat belt and talking on the phone today. I’m not sure if this was staged or someone actually filmed it while driving on the highway but I hope to see videos where these guys are warning and fining other officers breaking the law. (see below)

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11168010_832750560150672_1700220400023377705_n via Wayniye el Dawoule

Some Lebanese Refuse To Recognize The Armenian Genocide

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Lebanon Victims of the Ottoman rule – Picture taken in Lebanon via Annahar

A couple of Beiruti associations and organizations, as well as few Sunni groups in Tripoli, rejected Education Minister Elias Bou Saab’s decision “to shut down public and private schools on the occasion of the so-called Armenian genocide, and claimed that the genocide is a subject of historical dispute and lacks national consensus”. The Turkish flag was even raised in Tripoli to show support.

I don’t know what’s wrong with these people, but it’s quite shameful and pathetic to hear that some Lebanese don’t acknowledge a genocide that is documented in historical books, studies, novels and documentaries. Even the Turks acknowledged last year the killing of hundreds of thousands of Armenians at the hands of Ottoman Turks but still refused to call it a genocide.

Moreover, I think someone should remind these groups of Lebanon’s dark days of hunger during the Ottoman Rule, when General Jamal Pasha “instituted an internal blockade of cereals to enter Mount Lebanon, particularly the Christian Maronite Canton (Kaemmakam) that included the current districts of Kesrowan and Betroun. Consequently, the Lebanese could not receive wheat and cereals from the district of Akkar and the Bekaa Valley”. It is estimated that Mount Lebanon lost between 20 and 30% of its population and some sources claim that it was the highest death toll by population of the First World War. I know for a fact that the towns of Abidlleh and Chabtine lost more than 40 or 50% of its residents back then and cases of cannibalism were reported. Of course the severe drought and locusts that hit Lebanon made things worse but the suffocating internal blockade by the Ottomans did the most damage.

One of the many sources I found on this dark era is from “The Famine of 1915-18 in Greater Syria” book that mentions “500,000 victims of famine and related to famine in Syria and Lebanon, 200,000 of them died in Mount Lebanon, particularly in the districts of Byblos and Batroun and Tripoli”. If this is accurate, this means Tripoli also suffered from the Ottoman rule just like all of Lebanon did, and these groups should be condemning Turkey for these actions and what they did to the Armenian people as well.

Here’s an excerpt taken from a letter by Gibran Khalil Gibran to Mary Haskell dated May 26, 1916: “The famine in Mount Lebanon has been planned and instigated by the Turkish government. Already 80,000 have succumbed to starvation and thousands are dying every single day. The same process happened with the Christian Armenians and applied to the Christians in Mount Lebanon”. Also there’s an [article] written by Annahar on this matter, pictures and references I found on the AUB website, and this [article] that quotes several sources on the famine that hit Lebanon between 1915 and 1918.

A coalition of Sunni organizations in Beirut Tuesday condemned a decision by Education Minister Elias Bou Saab to close private and public schools on April 24 in observance of the Armenian genocide, saying it might torpedo Turkish efforts to release Lebanese hostages held by ISIS and Nusra Front.

“Beiruti Associations and Organizations rejects Education Minister Elias Bou Saab’s decision to shut down public and private schools on the occasion of the so-called Armenian genocide, given that the anniversary is a subject of historical dispute and the lack of national Lebanese consensus regarding the circumstances [of the events of 1915],” a statement said. [DailyStar]

أثار قرار وزير التربية الياس بوصعب بالتعطيل يوم الجمعة حفيظة البعض في المجتمع الطرابلسي، وفعالياته، رفضاً للقرار. ومن أبرز الهيئات الرافضة للقرار دار الافتاء في طرابلس، وجمعية العزم والسعادة التابعة لرئيس مجلس الوزراء الاسبق نجيب ميقاتي، وهيئة العلماء المسلمين، ودعا عدد من الجمعيات إلى اعتصامات الجمعة استنكارًا لموقف الوزير، ودفاعًا عن تركيا.

وأصدرت “جمعية بيت الزكاة” بيانا طالبت فيه الحكومة اللبنانية بتوضيح حقيقة تبنّيها لقرار الوزير، وأوضح بيانها أن الجمعية “تدين كلّ المجازر التي وقعت في بلادنا العربية والإسلامية أو في العالم”، معلنة في البيان: “سوف نتقدّم من مجلس الوزراء بجدول عن المذابح التي ارتكبت بالأقاليم العربية والإسلامية، وليتحمّل المجلس النتائج، ولتعطل المدارس كل أيام العام الدراسي حدادًا على تلك المجازر”. [Annahar]

La Crêperie Kaslik Is Back!

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Ever since I posted sneak peek pictures of the newly renovated La Crêperie, a lot of people have been asking me about La Crêperie’s official opening date, and whether the menu and venue have changed drastically. Luckily enough, I was among the few invited to check out La Crêperie last Sunday and taste the new menu before the official opening which is scheduled for April 28th, so I’m gonna tell you everything you need to know in this post and show you how awesome the new restaurant is.

For those of you who don’t know La Creperie yet, it’s is one of Lebanon’s most authentic and beautiful restaurants and has been serving great food since 1968. The restaurant is an 18th Century Picturesque Ottoman House that offers a breathtaking view across the Jounieh bay and has welcomed several celebrities, presidents, ministers and diplomats. It’s an ideal place for family gatherings, couples, first dates, romantic dinners and events.

So what’s new at La Crêperie?
La Crêperie’s renovation kicked off almost two years ago and was completed a few weeks back. The main purpose was to ensure authenticity of the architecture and to keep the spirit of the place while reinforcing the worn out walls and foundations. Add to that the beautiful landscaping. To begin with, the restaurant’s entrance and parking lot were both enhanced to fit more cars and you are now greeted by a 1000-year old olive tree set right before La Creperie’s entrance. As you walk into the restaurant, you are surrounded by walls of hanging jasmine flowers that lead right to the restaurant’s terrace and main door.

As soon as you step inside, you notice how spacious the new place has become. The big old wooden bar is now gone and was replaced by an open bar in the middle of the restaurant. The paintings on the ceiling were also removed but the tiles as well as the tables and chairs look almost the same as before. The main room is now connected to all others and there are preserved butterflies displayed in glass frames are all the walls. The old chimney room kept its warm feel and looks amazing now.

20150419_212432 A Walk Down Memory Lane

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As far as the balcony is concerned, it’s much wider now and extends to the outdoor terrace and the chimney room on the other end of the house. The old railings were replaced by glass ones and the small tables and chairs by comfy couches and low tables. I have to admit I’m gonna miss the simpler tiny balcony with the small chairs and tables but at least this way, more people will get to enjoy the splendid views across the Jounieh bay. The caves were also revamped and I had a quick look at them but I’m not sure if they will be open next week as well.

Moving on to the most important part which is the food, the menu has few additional items but is very similar to the old one and still has some of the restaurant’s popular dishes (like the poussin desossé, crepe fait maison etc). Speaking of crepes, and this is great news, the same old women who were at Creperie are back and they’re doing the same amazing crepes!

What’s in the menu?
The menu consists of Salads and Appetizers, Pastas, Meat & Chicken, Fish and desserts.

The salads and appetizers include: a nicoise salad, goat-cheese salad, fresh mozzarella with tomatoes, Quinoa halloumi, Chicken Caesar salad, grilled calamari, smoked salmon, frogs a la provencale and bresaola with parmesan. There are 3 types of pastas, the Tagliatelle Alfredo, the Linguine Fruit de Mer and Penne Sauce Tomate. Steaks and Chicken platters include a filet de boeuf, steak frites, cote de boeuf, entrecote, escalope, tartate de boeuf, home-made burger, chicken escalope a la milanaise and a grilled chicken platter. For the sea-food lovers, there’s a seabass platter, grilled salmon, prawns and two mérou platters. Last but not least, the long list of desserts includes the traditional Baba au rhum, Tarte tatin with vanilla icecream, a cheese cake, tiramisu, chocolat fondant, creme brulee, tarte au chocolate, eclair au chocolat, poire belle Helene, salade de fruits, mille-feuille, icecream and sorbets, and the pain perdu.

Here’s what we ordered and some pictures:

Salads And Appetizers:
– Salade Nicoise a la vinaigrette de vin blanc.
– Salade de chevre chaud, sauce balsamique au miel.
– Salade de tomates, Mozzarella fraiche.
– Quinoa au Halloumi, sauce citron.
– Saumon fume ecossais et son toast.

Steaks:
– Filet de boeuf, haricots verts et carottes, pommes puree.
– Cote de boeuf grille pour deux, pommes au four.
– Pave de saumon, pommes rustiques.
– Crepe fait maison (Jambon, Fromage, Champignon)

Desserts:
– Creme brulee aux gousses de vanille.
– Poire Belle Helene.
– 2 Crepe Marron.
– 1 Crepe Chocolat Noir.
– Baba au rhum

As for drinks, we had a Beaujolais-villages 2012 red wine bottle.

20150419_215851 Salade Nicoise a la vinaigrette de vin blanc

20150419_220033 Quinoa au Halloumi, sauce citron

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20150419_221559 Crepe fait maison (Jambon, Fromage, Champignon)

20150419_223834 Pave de saumon, pommes rustiques.

20150419_223921 Cote de boeuf

20150419_230627 Crepes in the making.

20150419_231627 The famous Crepe Marron (sweet chestnut cream)

20150419_232042 Poire Belle Helene.

20150419_232409 Creme brulee aux gousses de vanille.

I enjoyed the salads and loved the quinoa. The salmon and mozzarellah were fresh, the steak and vegetables were great, the crepe fait maison was ok, the salmon was good and the desserts were all amazing! I ordered twice the crepe marron (topped with jam) and I highly recommend the Poire Belle Helene! The pain perdu wasn’t available yet so I will try it next time hopefully. All in all, it was a pleasant experience and I loved how simple the food presentation is and how much the new place reminded me of the old one. The new Crêperie has managed to keep the authenticity and originality of the old one with few changes and brought back a lot of memories from the old times.

Price-wise, the menu didn’t have any prices yet but from what I’ve been told, they haven’t change much and the price range will be around 35-50$ per person. La Crêperie will officially open on Tuesday 28th of April 2015. You can contact them on +96171202022. Here’s a link to their [website] and [Instagram] page.

Rating: 4.5/5

Stop Attacking The New Traffic Law

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I understand people criticizing certain aspects of the new traffic law and how police officers will be penalized for breaking the law, but refusing the traffic law because the roads are bad and not lit, or because you saw a cop running a red light is absurd. I agree that the new law is tough when it comes to fines, but again that’s not an excuse for not abiding by the new rules and becoming a better driver. It’s like ditching classes because the classroom seats are not comfortable, or as my friend Mustapha stated yesterday “refusing to take an exam because the school has no electricity”. If you want to keep on speeding, running red lights, not wearing seat-belts and driving recklessly, then you are an idiot and I hope you get fined and thrown in jail.

Don’t confuse the traffic law with other issues like the infrastructure, security and corruption because they are different. Implementing a new traffic law is as important as enhancing security, fixing roads, fighting censorship and corruption and protecting your freedom of thought. We need to become better drivers, the same way we need to become more environmentally friendly and less corrupt, and only a tough law and raising awareness will do the job. Again this doesn’t mean that the law is perfect and doesn’t have any flaws, but let’s do our part and start pressuring the authorities to do theirs as well. Speaking of which, there are 4 issues that I’m still not comfortable with and that I believe need to be tackled properly:

1- Political and security convoys: Is the police allowed to stop them? What happens when they are driving dangerously and cutting off people?
2- Fake License plates: This is unfortunately becoming a trend whereas crooks use fake car plate numbers and cause other drivers to get fined.
3- Settling the fines: Fines always used to come late (sometimes a year late), which is unacceptable. The ISF needs to figure out a way to automate the process.
4- Valet parking companies: Valet guys park everywhere illegally and throw away fines sometimes. They need to be severely penalized and banned if needed.

Until then, let’s drive safely and let’s hope the new traffic law will last more than 2 months this time.

IMG-20150422-WA0016 How the Lebanese reacted to the new traffic law – at the Mecanique in Dekwaneh

PS: Watch out for trains.

666 via Tayyar

A Summary Of The New Traffic Law In Lebanon

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The ISF started implementing the new traffic law today and were distributing as well a small booklet that sums up the major violations and their corresponding fines. It’s a small 6-pages guide that I uploaded here for those who are interested. I also shared few tweets from the ISF account regarding the main violations such as speeding, or not wearing a seat belt or texting and driving. You can also check the summary I did few weeks back [here].

I know that we aren’t satisfied with the way this law is being implemented, specially when police officers are still breaking the law and roads are in bad shape, but let’s try make the best out of it and become better drivers for our own sake. If you have any complaints, you can submit them to the ISF [here].

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On Being Fashionably Responsible: Lebanon’s VEA Turning Tires Into Handbags And Accessories

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Paula A special VEA line signed and endorsed by Ms. Paula Yacoubian. The Paula by Vea collection’s profits went to serve causes of her choosing.

A single tire contains about the equivalent of two U.S. gallons (7.5 liters) of oil. If burned, it produces highly toxic gases that pollute the environment even further and releases many toxins, some of which can settle in your lungs. Unfortunately, thousands of tires are either disposed of as waste or burned in Lebanon every year, and it has become a trend to block roads by burning tires during protests thereby causing further pollution. Needless to say, the government hasn’t done anything to tackle this problem but VEA, a Lebanese-based business, has decided to recycle these tires (inner tire tubes) and turn them into fashionable rubber-made bags. The aim is to build and develop awareness about up-cycling in our society, and encourage other initiatives to help preserve the environment, and leave this planet in a better shape for our children.

VEA has already produced handmade rubber bags, wallets, belts and accessories that were all designed by talented Lebanese fashion designers, and also kicked off a special line signed and endorsed by Ms. Paula Yacoubian. Right now they’re looking to expand to a new line of items that includes home decor and accessories and they are crowd-funding the project on Zoomal. The aim is to raise further awareness among Lebanese by asking them to contribute to this great initiative and help up-cycle over 1,000 Kilograms of rubber during 2015.

For as little as $10, you can contribute and make a difference. The amount needed is $10,000 and all the cool items that will be produced will act as a reward for the generous contributors. There are 15 days left, so let’s fund this project and make it happen!

Home

[YouTube]

16 Lebanese Featured Among The 100 Most Powerful Arabs Under 40

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influenti

Arabian Business published the 100 most powerful Arabs under 40 list which included 16 Lebanese. The top ranked was Iqbal Al Asaad who’s a Palestinian refugee in Lebanon, followed by Amal Clooney, Maher Zain, Rani Raad and Nancy Ajram. Khalil Beschir, a Lebanese racing driver and the first ever Arab to race in a single-seater World Championship was also featured on that list.

You can check out the full list [here].

Here are the Lebanese mentioned:

6- Iqbal Al Asaad
Industry: Science
Country: Lebanon (Palestine)

9- Amal Clooney
Industry: Law
Country:UK (Lebanon)

10- Maher Zain
Industry: Culture and society
Country: Sweden (Lebanon)

13- Rani Raad
Industry:Media
Country: UK (Lebanon)

19- Nancy Ajram
Industry: Arts and entertainment
Country: Lebanon

44- Moustafa Fahour
Industry: Culture and Society
Country: Lebanon

49- Philippe Ghanem
Industry: Banking and finance
Country: UAE (Lebanon)

53- Habib Haddad
Industry: Technology
Country: Lebanon

63- Abdallah Absi
Industry: Technology
Country: Lebanon

65- Ayah Bdeir
Industry: Technology
Country: Canada (Lebanon)

67-Mahmoud Kabbour
Industry: Arts and entertainment
Country: Lebanon

79- Fahd Hariri
Industry: Banking and finance
Country: France (Lebanon)

82- Khalil Beschir
Industry: Sport
Country: Lebanon

89- Diala Makki
Industry: Arts and entertainment
Country: UAE (Lebanon)

99- Myriam Fares
Industry: Arts and entertainment
Country: Lebanon

100- May Habib
Industry: Technology
Country: UAE (Lebanon)

Updated (It’s A Loto Campaign) Who’s Behind The Black Cats Campaign?

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There’s an ongoing campaign all over Lebanon portraying black cats as being bad luck and asking people to catch the black cat. I honestly don’t know who is behind it, but I find it wrong to portray black cats as being bad luck and ask people to catch black cats. If anything, doing so will further negative stereotypes and that’s the last thing black cats need as they already are abused because of such misconceptions. Moreover, asking people to catch a black cat and call a number once they do is a terrible idea as people might hurt them in the process.

In all cases, I’m trying to figure what’s the purpose of this campaign and if you know anything, please do share. More importantly, leave the black cats and all the cats alone and don’t try to catch any. If anything, adopt one :)

Update: Impact BBDO worked on the campaign for LOTO. Since Black cats are considered bad luck in Lebanon, LOTO are sending all the black cats on a vacation from Lebanon to New Zealand.

I’m sure there’s no negativity intended around this, but I wouldn’t have asked people to catch black cats. The campaign could have been targeted towards black cat owners instead. Here’s the video:

[YouTube]

Stop
Animals Lebanon responded to this ad by encouraging people to adopt a black cat and stop the negative myths about them.

Only In Lebanon: When You’d Rather Have Cancer Than Protest Against Your Political Party

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I spotted posters on the Jounieh highway inviting locals to protest against the Zouk powerplant on Saturday the 25th of April at 3pm. I texted a friend, who happens to be from Zouk Mikhael, and asked him about the protest and whether he’s going or not. He told me that he’s definitely not going because the protest is organized by people he disagrees with politically (wou 3am bya3emlouwa benkeye and maybe he’s right). I asked him whether his party or whomever he’s supporting are doing anything to fix this problem and he didn’t have a clear answer. Instead, he started attacking others and blaming them for not doing anything.

This small talk pretty much sums up the Zouk power plant situation and how Adonis and Zouk residents and municipalities, as well as Keserwan MPs and ministers haven’t done anything to shut down this polluting and hazardous plant. Some people have been lobbying since the days of the Camille Chamoun presidency, yet all their efforts have gone in vain because it’s all about politics and some people would rather get cancer from the toxins dispatched by the chemical plant than protest against their Zaiims. I don’t know how some Lebanese can be so nonchalant about their health and the well being of their children, specially when there are studies showing an increase in cancer due to this power plant.

The Zouk plant has been operating for more than 50 years and is polluting the whole country not just the Keserwan area. A couple of years back, emissions were reduced by 80% by Minister Gebran Bassil but this is not enough as filters aren’t apparently an effective solution. I don’t know what Zouk residents are still waiting for, but they are jeopardizing their health and their family’s health by keeping things as they are. What’s even worse is that more buildings are being built around the plant and the area is becoming overpopulated, not to mention the new beach resorts that are opening every summer, and the third smoke stack that might be added.

To sum things up, if the problem is that we can’t get rid of the power-plant that easily, municipalities should raise awareness on its dangers and keep people away from it. They should also organize protests and pressure the authorities to cut down the pollution and agree on a plan to remove the power plants once and for all. At the same time, municipalities should do what Zahle did and try to figure out alternatives (renewable energy solutions maybe?) to provide their towns and villages with 24/7 electricity, that way they will be able to negotiate on better terms, noting that Zouk residents don’t even get 24/7 electricity! It’s quite absurd that the authorities are allowing people to build new residential areas, commercial centers and beach resorts around the Zouk power plant while there’s a yearly increase of cancer cases and other diseases due to this plant!

For those of you who think that there’s no solution to this matter, check out this study done by Patrick Kallas that I found online and that proposes four solutions to the Zouk power plant issue, and I’m sure there are other studies and solutions published online.

As far as Saturday’s protest is concerned, I don’t know who is organizing it but that’s not how you achieve things. You need to convince residents that you have a certain strategy, that you will be following a certain plan of work and that these protests will eventually get somewhere not just end up on some local TV’s news bulletin for 2 minutes.

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